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What Is Vegan Ricotta?

By Anna B. Smith
Updated May 17, 2024
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Vegan ricotta is a dish made from tofu that may be used in different Italian recipes as a substitute for traditional ricotta. This food does not contain any dairy products and may be used as a replacement for cheese in lasagna, or as a creamy white sauce or pasta.

Traditional ricotta is a soft cheese that is made from whey and is commonly used in Italian cooking. It is firm and white in appearance, and can be blended to a creamy consistency. Whey is a bi-product of milk proteins that separates from the milk during the manufacture of cheese. In this way, ricotta does not adhere to the standard definition of cheese, because it does not contain the base ingredient casein, which is naturally occurring in most cheeses. This food product may be made from the milk of any animal, whether goat, sheep, or cow, to create sweet or salty varieties.

A vegan is someone who has eliminated both meat and all animal products from his diet, including milk, cheese, eggs, and butter, among other forms of dairy. Vegans often alter recipes to replace meat with vegetables and find alternatives for dairy products.

Vegan ricotta is neither a cheese nor a dish made from whey. It is typically the name given to the substitute used for this dairy product in vegan versions of Italian cooking. The name can be somewhat misleading, as it does not refer to the base ingredients used in creating this food, but instead to the food that it is replacing.

The primary ingredients used to make vegan ricotta are tofu, soy milk or yogurt, lemon juice, and fresh herbs. The tofu serves as the base binding agent, similar to the whey curds in traditional ricotta. Tofu is naturally bland in flavor, requiring the addition of different Italian herbs to increase the appeal and taste of this dish. Garlic, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and basil are common herb selections that can be chopped fresh or added dry to the tofu mixture.

Soy milk or soy yogurt should be combined in small amounts with the tofu to create a creamy texture. These foods can be mashed with a fork until they resemble the soft, blended nature of ricotta. They may also be placed in a food processor or blender to achieve similar results quickly. Lemon juice may be added to the vegan ricotta for both texture and flavor during the blending process.

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